Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival Virtual This Year

March 2, 2021

The 9th annual Tuscaloosa Africana Film Festival, featuring acclaimed movies from the African continent and broader African Diaspora, was held virtually this year, on Feb. 27- 28. Films were available each day from 6 pm to 6 pm and participants could join anytime during the 24-hour period.

The film festival is presented by the Edward A. Ulzen Memorial Foundation and Afram South Inc., two non-profit organizations supporting education and public health initiatives in Ghana, West Africa, and West Alabama, respectively. The festival is co-sponsored by the College of Community Health Sciences and the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission. Tuscaloosa is a sister city of Sunyani-Techiman in Ghana.

This year’s films include SNCC 2020, Mama Africa and The Mali-Cuba Connection/Africa MIA.

SNCC 2020 is a new film by Danny Lyon that brings together hundreds of black-and-white photographs taken by Lyon during the years he worked as the staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The images are layered with archival audio recordings of speeches by and conversations with the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights activist and chairman of SNCC from 1963 to 1966, and Julian Bond, a leader in the Civil Rights movement who helped establish the SNCC, among others. The film also features songs recorded in churches and meetings in Atlanta in the 1960s.

Mama Africa is a documentary that traces 50 years of the music and performances of Miriam Makeba, one of the first African musicians who won international acclaim and whose music was anchored in her traditional South African roots. Although forced into exile in 1959, Makeba sang for the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, performed with Harry Belafonte and later was married to Stokely Carmichael, a Civil Rights activist. She fervently opposed apartheid, and she died in 2008 after a concert in Italy. The documentary includes rare archive footage of her performances as well as interviews with her contemporaries.

The Mali-Cuba Connection/Africa MIA follows 10 young promising musicians from Mali sent to Cuba in 1964 to study music and strengthen cultural links between the two socialist countries. Combining Malian and Afro-Cuban influences, the musicians develop a revolutionary new sound and become the iconic ensemble “Las Maravillas de Mali.”